December 24, 2017

Holy Venerable Virgin Martyr Eugenia and Those With Her


To Eugenia.
Eugenia was crowned first for her labors,
Baptized dipped in dye by the sword.
On the twenty-fourth Eugenia submitted to the sword.

To Basilla.
Who will outrun you to be beheaded by the sword,
Martyr Basilla of divine solid faith?

To Philip.
A two-edged knife against error,
Philip slays with the knife of his mouth.

To Protas and Hyacinth.
Hyacinth and Protas were beheaded by the sword,
Alotted honor by God as first Martyrs.

The Holy Martyr Eugenia, was a Roman by birth. She lived at Alexandria, where her father Philip was sent by the emperor Commodus (180-192) to be Prefect of Egypt. Eugenia received a fine upbringing and was noted for her beauty and good disposition. Many illustrious youths sought her hand, but she did not wish to marry anyone, for she was determined to preserve her virginity.

Providentially, she became acquainted with the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. She yearned with all her soul to become a Christian, but kept this a secret from her parents. At that time, Christians were banished from Alexandria by the command of the emperor. Wishing to learn more about Christian teachings, she asked permission to visit one of the family estates outside the city, supposedly to enjoy the countryside. She left in the company of her two servants Protos and Hyacinth, dressed in men’s clothes. She and her companions were baptized at a certain monastery by Bishop Elias (July 14), who learned about her in a vision. He blessed her to pursue asceticism at the monastery disguised as the monk Eugene.

By her ascetic labors, Saint Eugenia acquired the gift of healing. Once, a rich young woman named Melanthia turned to her for help. Seeing “Eugene,” this woman burned with an impure passion, and when she was spurned, she falsely accused the Saint of attempted rape. Saint Eugenia came to trial before the Prefect of Egypt (her father), and she was forced to reveal her secret identity. Her parents and brothers rejoiced to find the one for whom they had long grieved. Melanthia in turn was punished for falsely accusing the Saint, for which fire came down from heaven and burned her house to the ground with her and her household in it; this became the cause of many converting to Christ.

After a while they all accepted holy Baptism. But Philip, after being denounced by pagans, was dismissed from his post. The Alexandrian Christians chose him as their bishop. The new Prefect, fearing the wrath of the people, did not dare to execute Philip openly, but sent assassins to kill him. They inflicted wounds upon Saint Philip while he was praying, from which he died three days later.

Saint Claudia went to Rome with her sons, daughter, and her servants. There Saint Eugenia continued with the monastic life, and brought many young women to Christ. Claudia built a wanderers’ hostel and aided the poor. After several peaceful years, the emperor Galienus (260-268) intensified the persecution against Christians, and many of them found refuge with Saints Claudia and Eugenia.

Basilla, an orphaned Roman girl of imperial lineage, heard about the Christians and Saint Eugenia. She sent a trusted servant to the Saint asking her to write her a letter explaining Christian teachings. Saint Eugenia sent her friends and co-ascetics, Protos and Hyacinth, who enlightened Basilla, and she accepted holy Baptism.

Basilla’s servant then told her fiancĂ© Pompey that his betrothed had become a Christian. Pompey then complained to the emperor against the Christians for preaching celibacy and denouncing idolatry. Basilla refused to enter into marriage with Pompey, and so they killed her with a sword.

They dragged Saints Protos and Hyacinth into a temple to make them sacrifice to the idols, but just as they entered, the idol fell down and was shattered. The holy Martyrs Protos and Hyacinth were beheaded. They also brought Saint Eugenia to the temple of Diana by force, but she had not even entered it, when the pagan temple collapsed with its idol.

They threw the holy Martyr into the Tiber with a stone about her neck, but the stone became untied and she remained unharmed. She also remained unscathed in the fire. Then they cast her into a pit, where she remained for ten days. During this time the Savior Himself appeared to her and said that she would enter into the heavenly Kingdom on the day He was born. When the radiant Feast of the Nativity of the Lord came, the executioner put her to death with a sword. After her death, Saint Eugenia appeared to her mother to tell her beforehand the day of her own death.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
In thy praise inspired by the Holy Spirit, thou didst receive the light of divine knowledge, O Eugenia, glorious virgin of Christ. And radiant among the choir of the venerables, thou didst triumph over the enemy in thy contest. O glorious Martyr, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou didst flee the passing glory of the world, drawn by longing for Christ, O holy Martyr. Thou didst preserve thy noble soul unblemished: we praise thee, Venerable Eugenia.